How to Reach Out to Local Media
Local media can be a fantastic ally in promoting your business. A featured story about your store can be vital to spreading the word about your products and events, and can help cement your position as a cornerstone of your community.
However, if you want access to that influence, you’ll need to build relationships. This guide provides a few suggestions on how to reach out, build bridges, and pitch story ideas to your local media.
Let’s start with a few quick tips:
- Make the story relevant
- This story is relevant to your local media because of proximity. Make sure the reporter knows you are a local store and you serve and benefit the local community.
- Keep the language focused on how the story would benefit the paper and/or the community.
- Offer to let the reporter come by the shop during the first Standard Showdown event if you are comfortable doing that. Anchor the information you want them to report on around a community event, which can make the story more relevant to the locality.
- Keep it short
- You can use the sample language in this letter, but if it doesn't seem to quite fit what you'd like to tell the reporter, remember to keep the pitch short and simple.
- The meat of the pitch should be at the very beginning of the email; don’t make them work to find the point.
- Subject matters
- Journalists receive many tips and story requests each day. Help yours to stand out by creating a short but interesting subject line for your email.
- The subject line should only be around 50 characters.
- Be available
- Journalists often have tight deadlines for stories, so if you send out a pitch, make sure you'll be available to chat with someone right away if they happen to get back to you quickly.
Keep in mind that press get multiple emails and phone calls every day pitching them local stories. They can’t realistically cover them all, so don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response right away.
Think of this as the beginning of a process: sometimes it takes multiple attempts, pitching different stories, to land a successful article about your store in a local newspaper or magazine.
So what would that pitch look like? An example of a great story might be a local interest story for the Holidays. Through the upcoming Buy-A-Box promotion and the Standard Showdown, you have a possible "Small Business Saturday" story to pitch to your local press.
Using this as an example, here's sample language for a pitch that you can use or modify to suit your needs.
Sample Pitch Language:
Subject: Help our local store unite gamers for the holidays
[My store name] is a small business serving your local readership. Starting on November 26, we are hosting a four-week Magic: The Gathering event series that we believe might interest you as a local story embracing the spirit of Shop Small Saturday.
Each Saturday, players from our community are invited to play Magic, compete for prizes, and celebrate the holidays through their shared love of games. We will also be providing great deals for local shoppers, including an exclusive Magic: The Gathering holiday promotion that’s only available through local game stores like ours. We would love to talk with you further if this is a story your readers might enjoy.
Your primary goal for your first outreach is to build the foundation for a successful relationship with the press you’ve contacted. Ultimately, you want to become collaborators working toward a mutually beneficial goal: a compelling story about your business that will interest their readers.